There is a fundamental shift taking place in the world economy to which the multilateral trading system has failed to adapt. The Doha process focused on issues of limited significance while the burning issues of the day—including the recent financial crisis—are not on the negotiating agenda.
The paper advances five propositions: (I) the traditional negotiating dynamic, driven by private-sector interests largely in the rich countries, is running out of steam; (II) the world economy is moving broadly from conditions of relative abundance to relative scarcity, and so economic security has become a paramount concern for consumers, workers, and ordinary citizens; (III) international economic integration and cooperation can contribute to enhanced security; (IV) addressing these new concerns— relating to food, energy, financial and economic security—requires a wider agenda of multilateral cooperation, involving not just the WTO but other multilateral institutions as well; and (V) despite shifts in economic power across countries, the commonality of interests and scope for give-and-take on these new issues make multilateral cooperation worth attempting.
The paper’s key proposals include ideas for preventing and resolving future financial crises though better multilateral cooperation.
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